Friday, July 30, 2004

Old Favorite

A post over at Will's place today reminded me of when I was young and favored. I suppose to say that I was the "favorite" child is a leap, since I was the only child, but still... amongst the cousins, neighbors, friends, etc. I held some high priced realty up on that pedestal.

I was an only, but I was never lonely. I learned to amuse myself at an early age, and being the only kid "mature" enough to venture out as a tag-along to adult dinner parties and the like, I took in a lot of information. Sitting on the far side of the living room, nose in a Beverly Cleary book, I took lots of mental notes. I saw the way the ladies sat, ankles crossed. The way the men would run to refresh their wine coolers, then return smelling distinctly of skunk and with eyes as red as spanish peanuts. I figured out a lot about how the world worked at a very tender age. I always knew about my father's philandering. About my mother's quiet suffering. About which people clearly didn't belong in certain social circles, and how a swimming pool or a good drug dealer can change all of that. Even as a tiny tot, I had it down pat. The explanations, the arguments, the defenses that worked.

One such example : I was 3 or 4 years old, and my mother and aunt had forced my cousin Eric to play with me. Being 5 years older, Eric had absolutely no interest in chasing around a preschooler, but eventually resigned to the fact that he had to. Instantly, I grew smug with the knowledge that he was being made to play. Forced to make me happy. He created a game of "cops and robbers" that involved rubber band guns that left a distinct sting on your heinie or arm, where ever they landed. After one pelt by the rubber band, I decided that I needed the bigger gun. He and I squabbled a bit over why he should have the bigger gun (older, bigger, wiser) versus why I should have it (I said so). After bickering for a good 5 minutes, I delivered an ultimatum : hand over the gun, or I'll put my gum in your hair.

Eric stood his ground, defiantly coaxing me "do it... go ahead" so... I did. And I smashed it in good. I wiped all the stickiness from my fingers all around the crown of his head. Mashed his bangs deep into the gum, which was stringy and purple.

When he finally got over his amazement, he ran to his mother, upset. I hid in the bedroom, unsure of what punishment would come to me for this one... instead I heard the two women in the kitchen justify to him that I was "just a little kid" and that I didn't "know any better" and 5 minutes and a forced "sorry, Eric" later I was off the hook. Eric, however, was in the back yard getting his hair buzzed.

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